Antarctica's temperature has reached a record high of more than 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), according to a team of researchers.
"We had never seen such a high temperature in Antarctica,quot; Brazilian scientist Carlos Schaefer told the AFP news agency on Friday, referring to the Temperature of 20.75C (69.35F) recorded on February 9 in Seymour Island, part of an archipelago at the northern tip of the continent
The reading is almost a grade higher than the previous record of 19.83C (67.69F) taken on Signy Island in January 1982.
In a statement, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said it was aware of the report, but warned that it was premature to say that Antarctica had exceeded 20C for the first time.
"First we need to analyze the very important station metadata, for example, location, type of equipment, measurement practices, calibration of instruments, etc., of the researchers involved," he said. Randall Cerveny, WMO Rapporteur on extreme meteorological and climatic phenomena.
"Once we have these data, we can begin a formal evaluation of the validity of the observation."
Meanwhile, Schaefer, who works at Terrantar, a Brazilian government project that monitors the effect of climate change in more than 20 sites in Antarctica, also warned that reading "makes no sense in terms of a tendency to climate change,quot; Because it is a unique temperature and is not part of a long-term data set.
"We can't use this to anticipate future climate changes. It's a data point," said Schaefer, a soil scientist.. "It is simply a sign that something different is happening in that area," he said.
The Seymour Island reading is significantly higher than the 18.3C (64.94F) temperature recorded on February 6 in the Argentine research base Esperanza. WMO said it was also working to verify that reading.
The Antarctic Peninsula is among the fastest warming regions on the planet, almost 3C (37.4F) in the last 50 years, according to the WHO.
& # 39; Acceleration rate & # 39;
According to WMO, roughly twice the size of Australia, Antarctica experiences annual average temperatures ranging from about 10 ° C (50 ° F) on the coast to minus 60 ° C (140 ° F) in the highest part of its inside.
Its vast ice sheet contains 90 percent of the world's fresh water, enough to raise sea level by approximately 60 meters (196 feet) if everything melts.
Accelerating the melting of glaciers, and especially ice sheets, in Antarctica is helping to boost sea level rise, threatening coastal megacities and small island nations.
"We know that the ice sheet is beginning to lose mass, that means it is melting and that melting water is contributing to sea level rise," Tim Naish of Wellington Victoria University told Al Jazeera.
"It is doing so with an accelerated pace and we hope it continues."
According to the United Nations, the last decade has been the hottest recorded with 2019, the second hottest year in history, after 2016. This year seems to maintain the trend, since last month was the hottest January registered.
Meanwhile, a group of scientists on a Greenpeace expedition reported a drastic reduction in many chinstrap penguin colonies this week, and some have fallen to 77 percent since the last survey conducted almost 50 years ago.
"While several factors may play a role, all the evidence we have points to climate change as responsible for the changes we are seeing." said Heather J Lynch, associate professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University in New York, and one of the expedition's leaders.
Dyan deNapoli, the award-winning author of The Great Penguin Rescue, all right.
"The number one threat to almost all penguin species today is global warming," he told Al Jazeera.
And humans should worry about the drop in the number of penguins, according to the author.
"The dramatic decline we are seeing in their numbers is an indication that the overall health of the ecosystem they inhabit is also in decline," said deNapoli.
"Put more simply, if the penguins are dying, it means that our oceans are dying. What will ultimately affect other species, including humans."